SUN CITY by Tore Jansson
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This Finnish author, whose first novel for adults, The Summer Book (p. 194), followed the erratic trajectories of consciousness in old age, here groups her elderly characters in a severe line of rocking chairs on the graceful veranda of a residence in St. Petersburg, Florida. Among these rootless, isolated beings casting about for accommodation to a bizarre landscape are Elizabeth Morris, who experiments with silence; muscular-minded Mrs. Rubenstein and her ""massive disdain""; the residence owner, who by her 92nd year learned to invite into mind only ""whatever she thought agreeable and useful and shut off forever a large, feverish reservoir""; Peabody the mouse whose swamp of compassion ""occasionally threw out long needles of hate""; angry Mr. Thompson who despises the world; and Frey, the manager, acutely vulnerable to the suspicion of her nonentity. And there is former matinee idol Tim Tellerton, really not old enough to understand why in this city one is merely an event and not Tim Tellerton. Against the plastic props--the movie ship Bounty, the amusement parks, the multitude of beauty parlors that transform puffs of white hair--two young people, gentle Linda and Joe with his Honda, await a letter from the Jesus people about the Second Coming. The talk is abrasive, urgent, yet somehow remote, as the elderly, wise to the chimeras of Second Comings, flounder through the days. Or maybe like Mrs. Morris, sleep the way a person does ""before an important departure--with complete attention."" A sharp assessment of the sun cities at the end of life, with their false warmth and no sheltering shadow.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Pantheon